Breast Cancer: Screening

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 22nd September 2020.

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Photo of Craig Tracey Craig Tracey Conservative, North Warwickshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the article published in The Lancet on 12 August 2020 entitled Effect of mammographic screening from age 40 years on breast cancer mortality, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of lowering the breast cancer screening age for women.

Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The United Kingdom National Screening Committee (UK NSC) is aware of the The Lancet publication of the long-term outcomes of the UK Breast Screening Age trial.

The UK NSC will examine the findings carefully along with other initiatives in this area, which includes the use of artificial intelligence and digital pathology in the National Health Service Breast Screening Programme (NHS BSP). Currently there is a robust estimate that the current NHS BSP strategy is effective in preventing deaths from breast cancer. This involves regular screening in women aged 50 up to their 71st birthday.

The UK NSC also awaits the publication of the Age Extension Trial of screening in women over the age of 70 which is due to report in 2026.

The Committee’s overriding concern is that any significant change to the Programme should result in more good than harm and be cost proportionable.

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